Why Byzantine Emperors Get no Love

When it comes to the world of modern publishing,  Byzantine emperors receive very little love. Perhaps it is all of the infighting marked by castrations,flaying, and blinding of one’s opponents that has turned off the modern audience. Certainly, reading Byzantine accounts of these reigns could cause even the hardiest of modern readers stomach’s to churn. On second thought,  given the popularity of the HBO series, Game of Thrones, a show that revels in such torture, an abhorrence of torture probably does not represent a primary factor for this disdain.
 
Unrelated Side Note here: Certainly George Martin bases much of his world in a Byzantine setting, if often in a non-complimentary way. (Moreover, I would like to point out to him that castration, particularly later in life, does not necessarily remove a eunuch’s sex-drive).
More so I would suggest an increased…albeit necessary, focus on women’s history has taken the focus of men in the Byzantine world.
 
Indeed, there have been numerous studies on Byzantine Empresses in the past twenty years, whilst a bookshelf on recent works on Byzantine emperors remains rather bare.

While much of this work on imperial women is of high quality, they have in my mind overestimated the impact and importance of these women in comparison to their male counter-parts.So too have they underestimated the continuing androcentrism of the Byzantine Empire. These more optimistic visions of women in Byzantium have received challenges recently. Moreover, a new wave of scholars have begun to re-examine the role of the emperor in the Byzantine world. A culmination of this work will be on display at Cardiff University, 25-27 April 2014 “The Emperor in the Byzantine World”Cardiff University, 25-27 April 2014 “The Emperor in the Byzantine World. Unfortunately a piece I am preparing on perhaps the first Byzantine emperor Leo I was not ready in time for this conference, but many exciting papers will be given. I will close this short blog with a list of the papers to be given.

Dynasty: Imperial Families

Mark Humphries (Swansea University): Family, Dynasty, and the Construction of Legitimacy: The Roman Background Mike Humphreys (University of Cambridge): The Dynasty of Heraclius Mark Masterson (Victoria University of Wellington): Basil II and the Macedonian Dynasty

Imperial Literature: The Emperor as Subject and Author

John Vanderspoel (University of Calgary): Imperial Panegyric Savvas Kyriakidis (University of Johannesburg): The Emperor in Historiography – The History of John Kantakouzenos

The Imperial Court: The Emperor’s Men

Meaghan McEvoy (Goethe University, Frankfurt): The Court of Theodosius II and its Consequences Jonathan Shepard (Oxford): Emperors and Administrators in the Middle Empire Jonathan Harris (Royal Holloway, University of London): Who was who at the Court of Constantine XI (1449-1453)

Imperial Duties: The Emperor as Ruler

Bernard Stolte (University of Groningen): The Emperor and Law Michael Grünbart (University of Münster): The Emperor and the Patriarch Frank Trombley (Cardiff University): The Emperor and War

The Material Emperor: Imperial Art and Architecture

Alicia Walker (Bryn Mawr College): The Emperor in Art Eurydice Georganteli (University of Birmingham): The Emperor and Coinage Lynn Jones (Florida State University): Emperor and Palace

Public Lecture

Byzantium and Wales: Mark Redknap (National Museum Cardiff)

 

The Emperor in the Byzantine World

Cardiff University, 25-27 April 2014

Dynasty: Imperial Families

Mark Humphries (Swansea University): Family, Dynasty, and the Construction of Legitimacy: The Roman Background Mike Humphreys (University of Cambridge): The Dynasty of Heraclius Mark Masterson (Victoria University of Wellington): Basil II and the Macedonian Dynasty

Imperial Literature: The Emperor as Subject and Author

John Vanderspoel (University of Calgary): Imperial Panegyric Savvas Kyriakidis (University of Johannesburg): The Emperor in Historiography – The History of John Kantakouzenos

The Imperial Court: The Emperor’s Men

Meaghan McEvoy (Goethe University, Frankfurt): The Court of Theodosius II and its Consequences Jonathan Shepard (Oxford): Emperors and Administrators in the Middle Empire Jonathan Harris (Royal Holloway, University of London): Who was who at the Court of Constantine XI (1449-1453)

Imperial Duties: The Emperor as Ruler

Bernard Stolte (University of Groningen): The Emperor and Law Michael Grünbart (University of Münster): The Emperor and the Patriarch Frank Trombley (Cardiff University): The Emperor and War

The Material Emperor: Imperial Art and Architecture

Alicia Walker (Bryn Mawr College): The Emperor in Art Eurydice Georganteli (University of Birmingham): The Emperor and Coinage Lynn Jones (Florida State University): Emperor and Palace

Public Lecture

Byzantium and Wales: Mark Redknap (National Museum Cardiff)

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One thought on “Why Byzantine Emperors Get no Love

  1. roberthorvat

    Off course, Byzantine Emperors will always be front and centre when we think of Byzantium. Though I believe that there will always be a place for imperial women. History was generally made by men, about time we focus on the amazing women to. Judith Herrin is a great writer who gives everyone a fair go including women. Love you article. i hope you might visit my blogs (…it’s history and newly commenced Byzantine blog) . Currently focusing on amazing women in history. Some byzantine women will appear over the course of the next few weeks.Keep up the great articles !!!!!

    Reply

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